Democrat to vote against KAGAN
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said Friday that he would vote against confirming Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first in his party to announce opposition. Also on Friday, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., said he would vote for President Barack Obama's nominee, the fifth Republican to do so. Nelson said he had heard "concerns" from people in Nebraska about Kagan. It takes 60 votes to force a final vote. With 59 votes controlled by Democrats and five Republicans in support, Kagan's nomination would have enough to end a Republican filibuster. In announcing his support for Kagan, Gregg said she "has pledged that she will exercise judicial restraint and decide each case that comes before her based on the law, with objectivity and without regard to her personal views." Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Richard Lugar, R-Indiana, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, also have announced their support for Kagan. The Senate plans to vote next week.
FDA okays vaccines for next flu season
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it had approved vaccines for the next flu season, expected to start in the fall, and health officials are recommending vaccination for everyone 6 months old and older. Last year's notorious virus, the pandemic swine flu, or H1N1, has now become just one of the usual suspects included in the 2010-11 vaccine. Eight vaccines made by six companies have been approved, including a new, high-dose version meant for people 65 and older. Researchers think older people may need a stronger vaccine than younger ones, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that it is not yet known whether the new high-dose formula will work any better than the standard one.
Lawmaker speeding during radio interview
California Rep. Dan Lungren was forced to cut short a radio interview when he was stopped by police in Virginia for speeding while he was live on the air. The Sacramento Republican was pulled over while talking to KFBK radio Friday morning on his way from his Virginia home to his Washington office. On the air, a police officer could be heard telling Lungren to hang up his phone. Lungren explained to the interviewer that he was "probably just slightly over the speed limit." Lungren spokesman Brian Kaveney said his boss may have caught the officer's eye because he was using his phone without a hands-free device, though that is not illegal in Virginia. Lungren got off with a warning.
Mexico's air safety rating downgraded
Mexico's aviation safety rating was downgraded Friday due to concerns about the country's safety oversight, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The action won't stop flights between the two countries, but it will prevent Mexican airlines like Aeromexico and Mexicana from expanding service to the United States, the FAA said. Mexican airlines also will not be able to carry passengers to or from the United States in so-called code-sharing agreements with U.S. airlines. Code-sharing means one airline puts its code or symbol on another carrier's flight and sells the seats as if the plane were its own. Delta Air Lines Inc. has a code-sharing arrangement with Aeromexico, and American Airlines has one with Mexicana. Delta spokesman Kent Landers said the airline will remove its code from AeroMexico flights. About 140 AeroMexico flights per day operate with Delta's code.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.: Jaroslaw Kowalczyk, 32, of Illinois faces human smuggling charges after allegedly placing an ad in a Polish-language newspaper offering to help illegal immigrants get New Mexico driver's licenses. A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque says he transported two illegal immigrants from Chicago to Albuquerque, charging them $1,000 each.
MADISON, Wis.: A safety net under a "free fall" attraction at a popular Extreme World amusement park failed on Friday, and a 12-year-old girl who plunged more than 40 feet before hitting the ground was seriously injured.